If you have been reading my Instagram posts, I’m sure you would have read about us getting home this whopper of a jackfruit from a weekend drive to Mysore Road. We had an absolutely delightful experience cutting it open and pigging out on the gorgeous, ripe, beautiful kernels within, an exercise that left us with a whole lot of jackfruit seeds. And, of course, I had to use some of them to make my favourite Pala Kottai Sambar or Tamilnadu Style Jackfruit Seeds Sambar, with some drumsticks added in.
Pala Kottai Sambar is a heritage Tamilnadu dish, somewhat of a ‘lost recipe’ with not many families preferring to undergo the bit of effort that making it involves. However, it is considered quite the delicacy in the Tamilian households that still continue to make it, especially in the summer, when ripe jackfruits are available aplenty. In my family, we prepare the sambar using home-made powder (sambar podi), without any coconut added to it. The nutty seeds of the jackfruit lend themselves beautifully to the tangy, spicy sambar, a heavenly treat when mixed with some piping hot steamed rice and ghee. So good you don’t even need a curry or any other accompaniment to go with it! Real, proper, soul food this is!
Jackfruit seeds have a white covering on them, when they are fresh out of the fruit. This covering needs to be disposed, and only the inner part of the seed consumed. Keep the seeds spread out on a newspaper in the kitchen for a day or two, sun-drying them for an hour or so, and you will find the white covering drying up, getting plastic-like, and gradually coming off very, very easily. There might be a few seeds where you aren’t able to get off the white covering at all – just pound those seeds roughly in a mortar and pestle, as shown above, and you will find it developing cracks and peeling off easily. You don’t need to scrape off the brown layer on the seeds – after the white part is removed, the seeds are ready to be used as is.
Now that I have told you how to prep the seeds, let me move on to the preparation of the Pala Kottai Sambar or Tamilnadu Style Jackfruit Seeds Sambar.
Ingredients (serves 4-5):
- 1/4 cup toor daal
- 2 medium-sized drumsticks
- 12-15 jackfruit seeds, with the white covering removed
- A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
- A pinch of fenugreek seeds
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
- About 1-1/2 tablespoons sambar powder or to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1. Wash the toor daal well under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the water, and transfer it to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the toor daal completely, and place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 5-6 whistles or till the daal is well done and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.
2. Pound the cleaned jackfruit seeds roughly using a mortar and pestle. You may also cut them up roughly if you so like. Place the jackfruit seeds in a wide vessel, and add in a bit of water. Pressure cook the seeds for 4-5 whistles, or until cooked and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.
3. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, add about 1/4 cup fresh water to it, a little at a time, and extract all the juice from it. Keep aside.
4. Remove the tail ends of the drumstick and chop it into 1-inch pieces. Keep aside.
5. When the pressure has completely gone down from the pressure cooker, get the cooked jackfruit seeds out and keep them ready. Mash the cooked toor daal well and keep it handy.
6. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Now, add the asafoetida, curry leaves and fenugreek seeds. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
7. Add the chopped drumsticks to the pan, along with about 1/2 cup of water. Add in a little salt and the turmeric powder. Cook, covered, on medium flame, till they get cooked through but are not overly mushy.
8. Now, add the tamarind extract to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame, uncovered, for about 2 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
9. Now, add the cooked and mashed toor daal to the pan, along with sambar powder, more salt to taste, jaggery powder and red chilli powder (if using).
10. Immediately add in the cooked jackfruit seeds, along with the water they were cooked in. You will also need to add in 3/4 cup to 1 cup of water, to adjust the consistency of the sambar. Mix well.
11. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, or till the raw smell of the sambar powder has lessened and the liquid has thickened a bit. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas.
12. Garnish with finely chopped coriander seeds. Serve the Pala Kottai Sambar with steamed rice and a bit of ghee.
1. I have added drumsticks to the sambar too, along with the jackfruit seeds, because my daughter loves them. You can omit the drumsticks too, and make the sambar using only jackfruit seeds.
2. I have used home-made sambar powder here, but you may use a store-bought version too if you so prefer.
3. The sambar powder we make at home is quite mild and not very spicy, so I add a bit of red chilli powder to adjust the taste. You can skip the red chilli powder entirely if your sambar powder is spicy enough.
4. Adjust the quantity of toor daal, jackfruit seeds and drumsticks you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
5. If the tamarind you are using has seeds or impurities, you might want to strain the extract before using it in making the Pala Kottai Sambar. I don’t, since I buy de-seeded tamarind that is free of impurities.
6. Adding the jaggery powder is optional, but I would highly recommend it. It is added in a very small quantity only, and does not make the sambar sweet. In fact, it brings out the other flavours in the sambar beautifully.
7. Make sure the jackfruit seeds are thoroughly clean and free of insects/fungus before using them in making the Pala Kottai Sambar.
8. I do the mustard-fenugreek-asafoetida tempering first, and then go on to make the sambar in the same pan. You can add the tempering at the end as well. A couple of dried red chillies can be added to the tempering, too, if you so prefer.
9. Coconut oil or gingelly (sesame) oil works best in the tempering in this sambar. However, you may use refined oil or ghee instead, too.
10. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the sambar to be. Adjust spices and salt accordingly.
11. This is an entirely plant-based, vegan recipe. It can easily be made gluten-free too, if you skip the asafoetida in the tempering and in the sambar powder.
This Pala Kottai Sambar is definitely something you have to try out, if you haven’t already! Do share your feedback in the comments!